Today we continue our message series entitled “Courageous Leadership.” n this series we’re learning lessons about leadership that apply to each one of us from the book of Joshua.
Today’s message is entitled “Lead Through Conflict.” What is conflict? Conflict could be described as a fight, a battle or a struggle. There are different levels of conflict. Conflict might arise from a disagreement with another person, which could lead to an argument. Conflict can grow into some type of physical fight between people or groups of people. Conflict can become wars between entire nations.
I don’t like conflict, most people don’t. And there will be no conflict in heaven, so we have that peace to look forward to. Yet, on this earth, we are going to have varying levels of conflict throughout our lives.
Why is there conflict? The simple answer is that conflict is a result of sin. The first conflict arose in the garden of Eden. After the serpent tempted Adam and Eve to sin and they did, God spoke in to the serpent in …
Genesis 3:15 (ESV) I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Enmity or hostility is what has led to the conflict between Satan and his followers and God and His followers. That conflict involves both human beings and spiritual beings such as angels and demons. There is conflict between believers and unbelievers and even between believers. Why? Because of sin. God wants us to learn to be peacemakers for peace is the absence of conflict. There should be peace between believers.
There can not be true peace between believers and unbelievers until the unbeliever becomes a believer. Whether we like it or not, conflict is part of life. God has not called us to hide from conflict, but to be warriors in His army. As part of God’s army, we go into conflict to win.
Ephesians 6:12 (ESV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
The word in this verse translated wrestle could also be translated struggle, fight or battle which are all forms of conflict. The point here is that all conflict that we experience in life is a spiritual struggle, even though it often seems to be with another person. Behind the scenes, there are evil spiritual forces seeking to cause and increase conflict between people. We cannot be at peace with all people as the life of Jesus demonstrates. Yet, as we grow as believers we can grow as peacemakers. As we grow as believing leaders, God will help us lead unbelievers to Jesus so that enemies of the cross become children of God. Today, we’re going to learn how to lead and achieve victory in the conflicts that God allows into our lives.
Joshua 5:13 (ESV) When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
Joshua and the nation of Israel had crossed over the Jordan into the promised land via a miraculous parting of the river. In front of them was the fortified city of Jericho with high city walls. It would have to be conquered if Israel was going to continue their journey into the promised land. Suddenly Joshua sees a man standing right in front of him with a sword in his hand. Joshua did not recognize him and asked whose side the warrior was on.
Joshua 5:14 (ESV) And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”
The answer to Joshua’s question as to whose side the warrior was on was No, or Neither as most translations put it. This mysterious figure was not there to support Joshua, He was there to command the operation with Joshua following His orders. The question was not whether the commander was with Joshua, but whether Joshua was with the commander. Joshua fell to the ground, worshipped the being and asked for instructions.
Although some think the being was an angel, it is clear that this was God Himself appearing to Joshua. The commander accepted worship, which angels never accept in Scripture. God had come with His presence to help Joshua prepare for the coming conflict.
Joshua 5:15 (ESV) And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
The commander told Joshua to take off his sandals as the place he was standing was holy. The is another confirmation that the commander was God Himself. It reminds us of God appearing to Moses in the burning bush and asking him to take off his sandals as well. A title for God in the Old Testament is Lord of Hosts, referring to the Lord’s angelic army. So, even though the commander was visible, He had brought with Himself myriads of angelic warriors for the upcoming battle. God was present as Joshua faced the biggest conflict of his life.
None of us are facing a fortified natural city to conquer, yet in every conflict we face a fortified enemy. All of us face many types of conflicts in life. We face conflicts in personal relationships, conflicts at work, conflicts with Satan’s temptations, conflicts with sickness, conflicts with difficult circumstances of all kinds and so on. Whatever conflict you are facing today or will face tomorrow, you must remember that God’s presence is with you. He is the same Lord of hosts today. The fact that God is with you means that His angel armies are there as well.
As with Joshua, God is not with you to follow your wishes and desires. He is with you to direct you in the conflicts He has allowed in your life. Sometimes, God will direct you to be a peacemaker in your conflict and so win the victory. At other times, there is an enemy to be defeated through the power of God. Whatever conflict you’re facing today, realize that you’re not alone. God is with you and has a plan to win the victory. So, to win that victory that God has for you, you must …
Joshua 6:1-2 (ESV) Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.
The armies of Jericho had learned that Israel was coming and they had locked down the city. Everyone was inside, supplies had been gathered and they were prepared to defend their walled city. Jericho seemed like an impregnable fortress for a nation of foot soldiers to capture. Yet, the Lord, the Lord of hosts told Joshua that He had given the city into Israel’s hand. The city would not be conquered by human effort alone, but by the power of God. The victory would be complete, as the king and his mighty army would be defeated as well. God next gave Joshua His instructions.
Joshua 6:3-4 (ESV) You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
The army of Israel was to march around the city of Jericho for six days. The army would be accompanied by priests carrying the ark of God’s presence and priests carrying trumpets. During the first six days of the march, the priests were to blow the trumpets, but the army was to remain silent. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times. Seven in Scripture always represents the number of completion, the number of God and His presence.
Joshua 6:5 (ESV) And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.”
On the final day, after marching around Jericho seven times, the priests would make a long blast on their trumpets and the people would give a great shout. The result would be that the great stone wall of Jericho would fall down flat. It would fall in such a way that the army could proceed directly into the city to conquer it. The wall would not fall because of sound vibrations of the shouts and trumpets. The wall would fall because the people’s obedience in faith would release the armies of God who would demolish the wall. Joshua was to follow God’s battle plan.
Now the plan that God had for Joshua made no natural sense. Shouting and trumpets do not demolish massive stone walls. Yet, that was the plan that God had given to Joshua. It was a plan that would give God the glory. For only a supernatural force would enable Israel to capture Jericho. Whatever conflict or difficult situation you are facing, God has a plan for you to follow.
Sometimes God’s plan seems to make natural sense, but often God’s plans do not. God has a plan that is tailor made for your situation. He wants to reveal it to you. He will tell you what to do. Put your trust in Him and follow His plan. As you do, God’s power and His angel armies are sent into your situation. As always, you must obey in faith. Doubt and fear are temptations of the enemy. They must be resisted. As you follow God’s battle plan, you will find that …
Joshua 6:20 (ESV) So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.
Video – Archaeological evidence about The Walls of Jericho. Joshua and the people of Israel followed the Lord’s plan exactly. Not only did they follow the instructions of the plan, in their hearts they believed that when they shouted the wall would fall. And it did. What impact do you think the demolishing of the wall had on the defenders inside? They were overcome with fear. Not only did the wall fall flat, but the army was able to go directly into the city and defeat the army of Jericho.
Joshua 6:21 (ESV) Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword.
The Lord had ordered that the entire city would be devoted to the Lord for destruction, every living being. Every person in the city who had not believed in the Lord God of Israel would be put to the sword. Israel was the Lord’s instrument of judgement on a wicked people who had refused to repent and put their faith in God. For you see, although all in Jericho had heard of the stories of the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, only one family had chosen to believe.
Joshua 6:25 (ESV) But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
You remember Rahab, the prostitute, who had hidden the Israeli spies? She was to tie a scarlet ribbon in the window of her house which was built into Jericho’s wall. When the wall came tumbling down, her house did not. According to the instructions of the spies, Rahab had gathered her entire family and relatives into her house. They had all shared in her faith.
As the warriors went into the city of Jericho, the two spies went to Rahab’s house and rescued her and all her family. Rahab lived and worshipped with the people of Israel her whole life. In fact, when we read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, we see the Rahab is listed as an ancestor of King David, whose line lead to the Messiah. Rahab is also listed as a hero of the faith in the famous chapter of Hebrews 11. Faith brings the victory.
God is the one who brings victory. Sometimes victory comes quickly and sometimes it comes slowly over a long period of time. Some conflicts or battles are small, some are large. God allows conflicts to come into our lives so that we can learn to be overcomers.
In the book of Revelation, there are seven promises made to seven churches. Each promise is made to those who overcome. Overcomers are those who face conflict in their lives and they overcome or win the victory.
You know what conflict you are facing in your life. I’m sure that everyone here is facing at least one kind of conflict. Most of us are facing conflicts on multiple fronts at once. Just because you are in a conflict does not mean you have done anything wrong. Jesus was in conflicts His entire ministry, through no wrongdoing on His part. Yet, we don’t want to be the cause of conflicts because of our sin.
You may be in a conflict with the forces of darkness as you battle for the salvation of a loved one. God wants to strengthen you in that conflict until that person is saved. You may be in a conflict with a physical sickness, God wants you to find the victory in healing. You may be in a relationship conflict. God desires for you to find the victory as a peacemaker. Faith in God brings victory in every conflict.
Whatever walled city you’re facing this morning, whatever conflict you’re engaged in, God wants you to know that He is there with you. He comes to you as the commander of angelic hosts. God has a battle plan for your situation and He wants to give you your marching orders. Seek Him until your sure of His battle plan and then follow His plan.
As you follow God’s plan, don’t just go through the motions. Believe that as you follow His plan, faith will bring the victory. The walls of your obstacle will collapse and you will march right through it. God calls everyone of us to be overcomers, to be victorious in the conflicts of life. May each one find victory in Jesus each and every day.